Op-Ed: The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By United States Ambassador Perry L. Holloway

Americans and citizens throughout the world pause today to recognize and honor the life and achievements of the Reverand Martin Luther King Jr., (1929–1968), the 1964 Nobel Peace laureate and the individual most associated with the triumphs of the African-American civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. As a political organizer, supremely skilled orator and advocate of nonviolent protest, Dr. King was pivotal in persuading his fellow Americans to end the legal segregation that prevailed throughout the South and parts of other regions, and in sparking support for the civil rights legislation that established the legal framework for racial equality in the United States.

Dr. King’s message transcends across nations and to people throughout the world. In the United States, there are more than six hundred and fifty streets named for Martin Luther King, Jr., and there are streets, parks, and monuments dedicated to him in Australia, Austria, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia. This speaks volumes to the respect and admiration with which Dr. King is held both domestically and internationally.

Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” Today is a day to celebrate his life and his many accomplishments, but it is also something much more. It is a day of national service. It is day to check on an elderly neighbor or talk to young people who may need help coping through difficult times. It is a time to work with neighbors to clean up your community, join friends and neighbors to build a home, or provide food and clothing to those less fortunate.

Dr. King was taken from us far too early at the tender age of 39 years, but his legacy and message will live on for decades, if not centuries, to come. I echo President Obama when he said, “We have more to do to bring Dr. King’s dream within reach of all our daughters and sons. With one voice, we must ensure the scales of justice work equally for all…”

On this national day of service, I reiterate my pledge, on behalf of the U.S. Embassy, to work with government and non-government organizations to help Guyana become more safe, prosperous, and inclusive. Dr. King would want people of all color, creed, and religion to come together and work for the common good. As the Guyanese national motto suggests, Guyanese live in a country of “One People, One Nation, One Destiny.”